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Farming & Planning

The Future for Farmers   Planning & Your Future   Summary Notes   Full Government Guidance Notes 
(Information taken from "A Farmer's Guide to the Planning System, published by DEFRA & ODPM 2002)

The Future for Farmers
In its Rural White Paper, Our Countryside: the future, published in November 2000, the Government explained how it would help farmers to diversify. This included measures to promote a flexible and consistent planning system that is supportive of well-conceived farm diversification proposals, particularly involving the re-use of existing buildings for business purposes.

In January 2002 the Government established an independent Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food. The Government intends that it's report will make a substantial contribution towards a comprehensive and sustainable new strategy for food and farming in England which is properly integrated with wider goals, including sustainable development and rural policies. The strategy was launched in early autumn 2002, with the Government engaging with stakeholders in its development.

Against this background many more farmers need to start new, or expand existing, agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises. Well planned and managed, these enterprises can benefit farmers, and the communities in which they live. They can generate profitable alternative uses for land and buildings and create and maintain new jobs and services in the countryside.                                                                                                                     Back to Top

Planning and Your Future
If you are engaged in agriculture and are looking at opportunities to modernise, expand or diversify, it is important that you understand how planning regulations may affect your proposals and, where relevant, how to improve your chances of obtaining planning permission.

If you are proposing a change of use of land or buildings from agricultural use, you will need to apply for planning permission. Planning permission, where required, is often also a prerequisite of obtaining grant funding for a project.

The Government have produced a Guide which applies to England. In Wales the Welsh Assembly Government are issuing a farmer's guide to the planning system. In Scotland, the Development Department of the Scottish Executive has published the booklet, A Guide to Farm Diversification and Planning Permission in Scotland which can be obtained from: The Scottish Executive, Planning Division, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ, or from the Executive web site at: .  

Whatever your position, you may find the following summary useful.                    Back to Top

      Do consider your ideas and options carefully, take time to prepare and plan your development proposals properly, and allow sufficient time for the process as a whole.

  Do consider what effect your proposals might have on local amenity, the landscape and the environment, and on local services such as roads.

       Do talk to your local planning authority usually your local council about your proposals; check whether you need planning permission and, if so, what local planning policies might be relevant to your proposals.

       Do consult any neighbours or others who may be affected by your proposals, and your elected local councillor(s).

       Do consider whether you might need professional advice and assistance (e.g., from planning consultants, land agents, surveyors like Benfield ATT) to prepare your planning application, particularly if your proposals involve large-scale or complex building development.

       Do find out whether you are eligible for free planning consultancy advice under the Rural Enterprise Scheme administered by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) - Benfield ATT can help you with this if required..

       Do take account of all the advice and comments you receive, be prepared to amend your original ideas if necessary, and try to frame your proposals to bring out the positive impact they will have (e.g., improving the appearance of a run-down building, providing new employment  opportunities, or facilities for the local community).

       Do ensure that you present a clear and accurate planning application with supporting plans, covering all the points likely to be of concern to the planning authority.

       Do respond positively and helpfully to any requests from the planning authority for further information; be prepared to be flexible in adapting your proposals to meet any concerns of the authority.

       If your planning application is refused, do try to discuss the proposals with the planning officer to see if the planning authoritys concerns can be overcome, before you consider whether to appeal.

       Do read the Government's guide, available on line at, and any guidance provided by your local planning authority.

       Dont rush ahead with ill-considered and poorly prepared proposals.

       Dont place too much weight on advice (e.g., from family of friends) about how to obtain planning permission unless it is confirmed by the planning authority or professional sources.

       Dont rely on hearsay or assumptions (e.g., a neighbour has planning permission for a similar development, therefore I should get permission for my proposal).

       Dont expect your local planning authority to tell you what sort of development (e.g., diversification) would be best for you that is not heir role although you can ask the authority what type of developments are more likely to be acceptable in planning terms. (Benfield ATT can help you with project assessments, feasibility studies and business plans)

       Dont assume that any indication of your chances of obtaining planning permission that a planning officer might be prepared to give you prior to the submission of an application, will automatically be reflected in the final decision by the planning authority.

       Dont expect an instant decision you should allow at least eight weeks from the submission of your planning application, unless the planning authority has indicated otherwise.

       Dont proceed with any development works without first checking with your local authority about the need for planning permission (or for any other forms of consent), and until any necessary permission and other consents have been given.

Full Government Guidance Notes are available on line at and These explain how the planning system works to help you decide whether you need to put in a planning application and how to go about it.  It gives practical advice about presenting your application, what you need to consider, and what you can do to make your case effectively. 

If you would like help with your planning and development issues ...


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"... the sustainable way to build ..."

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Chartered Building Consultancy - timber frame, OSM (off-site manufacture) and engineered timber structure advisors. Timber Research and Development Association – our work with TRADA ensures high quality, eco-friendly engineered Timber Frame build projects. The Green Register of Construction Professionals - Benfield ATT's membership demonstrates our passion for environmentally sustainable timber frame self-builds, new homes, schools and social housing for local housing authorities AECB - Association of Environment Conscious Building – our FSC certified timber frame is endorsed by The Ecology Building Society Impact Upon Society Big Tick Award from Business in the Community – BITC – award-winning timber frame company within the Timber-frame industry TRA - Trussed Rafter Association – our membership assures Timberframe Trusses, Trussed Rafters, roofs and complex and innovative roofscapes are quality HBF - the only developer partnering timber frame company to be members of the House Builders Federation. Wales Quality Centre – members and committee members, we ensure the highest quality, especially when coupled with ISO 9001, FSC certification and Q-Mark Plus standards RICS - Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, assures our customers of our professionalism in wood and timber frame building and developing and surveying

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